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Dolan's Company Chopper Causing Buzz over Syosset

Does Cablevision, MSG's top exec commute daily by noisy helicopter? Town Board wants answers.

Syosset's Ralph Catapano, left, addresses the town board Tuesday about the helicopter that flies over his home regularly. (Photo credit: Joe Dowd.)
Syosset's Ralph Catapano, left, addresses the town board Tuesday about the helicopter that flies over his home regularly. (Photo credit: Joe Dowd.)
James Dolan's helicopter habits are whipping up controversy in Syosset.

The helicopter, bearing the millionaire top executive of Madison Square Garden, flies directly over Syosset as it makes its final approach to a nearby helipad in Woodbury.

Resident Ralph Catapano said he's observed the flight path from New York. It's a straight run high above the Long Island Expressway, a swing to port over the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway and then a quick descent to a landing pad at Cablevision's offices.

Dolan's company claims its Cablevison executive helicopter is operating within FAA guidelines and is not Dolan's personal chopper. The Town of Oyster Bay wants the matter looked into.

Catapano says he's caught in the middle and no one is willing to help. "They are very arrogant. I've called them and they don't get back to me," he said of Cablevision. "He has no interest in responding to my communications."

The father of a 2-year-old says he hears the chopper every day and night, emitting a roar so fierce it often awakens his son, who has medical problems. The chopper makes its final approach over the Harry B. Thompson Middle School, just west of Route 135, descending to below 700 feet or so before landing at the Crossways Industrial Park in neighboring Woodbury.

Liftoff comes regularly "between 9 and 10 every morning and (it lands) between 5 and 7 at night," said a Catapano, an ex-Marine who added he's familiar with helicopters and the dangers they pose over populated areas. The roar from the engines and the hum of swirling blades rattle his home on Terrahans Lane, just of the LIE.

What really angers him is that the chopper could land at the former Grumman airfield in Bethpage, a few miles south, and cause little disturbance. The large airfield, still operational, was once used to test fighter planes by the famed aeronautics manufacturer.

Catapano assumes Dolan doesn't want to drive the extra miles across Long Island after a day at work in New York. The Woodbury landing pad is a mere 6 miles to the Dolan family compound, a sprawling gated estate looking out on broad vistas of Oyster Bay Harbor.

"They have very little common courtesy," Catapano told the Town Board. "Why do Syosset residents have to put up with this?"

For decades, the heliport has been in use and is regulated by the FAA and the issue is not entirely new.

The News 12 helicopter frequently uses the helipad as well. Dolan and his family's interests control Cablevision, News 12 and Newsday, along with Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and the Rangers. The company was founded by Charles Dolan, James' father, who lives in a mansion at the Dolan Oyster Bay compound.

Cablevision spokesman Charlie Schueler said the helicoper is not Dolan's personal chopper but used by an assortment of company executives. News 12 also uses the helipad for its flights.

"We are fully in compliance with FAA regulations," Schueler said.

But Schueler declined to discuss whether Dolan uses the helicopter regularly or uses it to travel to and from his Manhattan offices. He also declined to discuss any of Dolan's flying habits mentioned by Catapano, including a late-night landing in July after the All Star Game at CitiField.

Catapano's comments came at Tuesday's regular meeting of the Oyster Bay Town Board, where Supervisor John Venditto directed his town attorney to contact Cablevision about the issue. Cablevision does not have a specific permit to take off and land in Woodbury, but town officials said the FAA doesn't require one of Cablevision.

Venditto said he was frustrated by the situation, which involves a variety of state and federal agencies but leaves open the question of which agency can regulate private air flight.

"If we have a situation in the town that is not acceptable and there is no remedy. That's not a comfortable position for a public officials to be in," Venditto said.
Allan Caporuscio September 18, 2013 at 08:39 AM
Try living in the Plainview, Bethpage, Hicksville area who are all within the flight path of the multiple helicopters coming in and out of the offices on Stewart Ave all day long. I can't keep my windows open on a nice day as the sound of the helicopter which can be in and out 10 times a day just resonates through my home.
Grifhunter September 18, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Yeah, lets drive the Dolans and Cablevision out of the Town, and maybe even into New Jersey, and all the jobs that go with it. The same neighborhoods are seranaded all day, everyday by landscapers and their leaf blowers, lawnmowers and chainsaws. Hows about banning power landscaping equipment first?
nick fil September 18, 2013 at 06:16 PM
So let me get this straight, a marine claims that helicopters pose a great risk over populated areas, then why are there so many news, police, medical, and other helicopters flying over populated areas?
A. Baldini September 18, 2013 at 08:07 PM
I've never heard a sadder story about a bunch of rich citizens complaining about their richer neighbor that I cared less about.
ray September 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Typical corruption. Rich guy gets pass when breaking the law and creating a nuisance. You're naive if you expect courtesy from arrogant bosses - and their lackey spokesmen.
Mike Rath September 19, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Just having Dolan as a neighbor is annoying enough..
Pat September 22, 2013 at 08:09 AM
A. Baldini, when was the last time you drove through Syosset; much of Syosset is solidly middle class and would not be considered "rich". Get your facts straight before you comment. Try living in the path of these helicopters especially as they are taking off or approaching for landing then maybe you would have some sympathy for this guy. You can drive around before you buy a house to check the amount of traffic, to check for other nuisances, you cannot be expected to figure out that the home you might purchase is in the path of these obnoxious helicopters. Dolans were never good neighbors to anyone.
MG September 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM
we get buzzed every morning at 7am - like clockwork - i think they go to Bethpage/stewart Ave first
Len Schaier September 24, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Mr. Ralph Catapano, Please contact me. lschaier@quietskies.net
Lee D'Elia September 24, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Poor rich guy is being annoyed by a poor richer guy ... booo hoooo!!! Let me get the "little violin " out ( 4 those under 50 and may not know what that means put your thumb and index fingers together and rub like your playing a sad song for them. The rest of us should only have that kind of problem.
Pat September 25, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Hey Lee, where does it say that he is a "rich" guy??? Driven through Syosset lately? Plenty of solidly middle class in that town. And if you had to regularly listen to a low flying helicopter making its approach or taking off, I bet you would be playing a different tune.

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